Tweaking the Target of Toil

“Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings… If you put these things before the brothers, you will be a good servant of Christ Jesus, being trained in the words of the faith and of the good doctrine that you have followed. Have nothing to do with irreverent, silly myths. Rather train yourself for godliness; for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come. The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance. For to this end we toil and strive, because we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Savior of all people, especially of those who believe.” Timothy 4:1,6-10

I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? ..Which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? ..Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” Matthew 6:25,27,33

When we are given extra time– the same 24 hours, but with certain routines or obligations in our normal schedules omitted– we wonder how to spend the hours. We are made to work, so plugging in new tasks is a natural inclination. Concurrently, our world presents a menu of personal priorities from which to select, many having to do with improving or changing our looks, our wardrobe, our pantries. Jesus knows we deal with such advice, and gives His own. (Genesis 1:26-29; 2:15)


While none of these things is bad in itself, there is a superior endeavor to which we are all called: godliness. Righteousness. The adorning of the heart. All things ‘God’s kingdom.’ When these priorities drive our actions and expenditure of every resource, our satisfaction comes from God and not ourselves, and we are able to exhibit Him in “all these things.” (1 Peter 3:2-4)

Fitness, and fad diets have benefits. So do building and organizing and educating. But on what is our toil set? Is our goal something of this world, or a heavenly hope? Are the things on which we spend time and limited energy all temporal, or eternal? Do we pay more attention to constructing something here than the constructs of our hearts? God planted us on this earth for earthly living, but this can be done with a heavenly mindset, a passion for God’s honor and redeemed for lasting good.

In planning my days, where do I include training for godliness? Can I describe my toil and striving as heavenly, or is it all earthly? Will I invite my God to infuse every aspect of my work with Himself, to teach me the exercise of holy character and industry even as I go about daily tasks?

Lord, train me through every earthly task to toil for what matters to You. Make godliness and imitating You my highest aim, for You are worthy of that effort and honor.

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